These findings for omega-3 and Alzheimer’s could signal a huge improvement, not only for patients, but also for elder care …
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most horrific diagnoses for both patients and caregivers. It is certainly devastating to watch a formerly vital, healthy person slowly forget the names and faces of their loved ones, places that were once familiar, and then finally their own sense of self. But according to a new study, the combination of omega-3 and Alzheimer’s shows a huge impact in potentially lessening the number of people suffering the disease.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The hard truth is that this country may be heading toward a nationwide public health crisis, given the fact that there are currently 70 million Baby Boomers within the highest risk age group, and 65 million Generation Xers right behind them.1
As many as 1 in 3 could die of Alzheimer’s
In fact, as many as five million Americans over the age of 65 may currently be living with some form of Alzheimer’s disease.2 Furthermore, Alzheimer’s disease may also increase the general mortality risk.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, as many as one in three older people will die from Alzheimer’s disease.3 It is now considered the seventh leading cause of death, behind COVID-19. Sadly, the majority of these deaths are among women, as they make up two-thirds of all patients with Alzheimer’s disease.3
Despite these grim statistics, there has been some promising research into the use of supplements to help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
DHA omega-3 and Alzheimer’s disease
A recent study published in the journal Nutrients reported findings from a population group known as the Framingham Offspring Cohort. For this study, researchers wanted to determine the effects of a diet high in a particular type of omega-3 fatty acid, known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), on the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.4
The study group comprised 1,490 subjects, ages 65 and older, who did not have Alzheimer’s disease at the start of the study. The aim was to examine the association of red blood-cell levels of DHA with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as test for the effect of the APOE-ε4 gene, which can increase the risk of developing the disease. A total of 131 cases of Alzheimer’s disease were included in the study.4
For the study, subjects were divided into groups, based upon their blood DHA level. Those study subjects in the highest group, with an average blood-DHA level of greater than 6%, had almost 50% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than did those subjects in the group with the lowest blood DHA levels (less than 3.8%). Furthermore, study subjects who increased their DHA levels from the lowest group to the highest one were predicted to gain almost five more years before any onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
A dietary strategy to prevent Alzheimer’s
The researchers noted: “These findings add to the increasing body of literature suggesting a robust association worth exploring dietary DHA as one strategy to prevent or delay AD.”4
These findings for omega-3 and Alzheimer’s could signal a huge improvement, not only for patients, but also for elder care in the public health system. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the cost for Alzheimer’s and other dementias could rise from the current $321 billion to almost $1 trillion by 2025.3 Imagine the difference something as simple as DHA omega-3 supplements could make for your older patients from that perspective.
- US Population by Generation 2021. Published June 2022.
- Alzheimer’s disease fact sheet. National Institute on Aging. Reviewed July 2021.
- Latest facts and figures report 2022. Alzheimer’s Association.
- Sala-Vila A, Satizabal CL, Tintle N, et al. Red blood cell DHA is inversely associated with risk of incident Alzheimer’s disease and all-cause dementia: Framingham Offspring Study. Nutrients. 2022;14(12):2408.